‘Similar to terrorism in 2009’ says Sri Lanka’s defence secretary on coronavirus outbreak

Sri Lanka’s defence secretary has called on the country to support the government’s strategy as it looks to tackle the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak on the island, stating it “is similar to how the entire country got together to defeat terrorism in 2009”. “Sri Lanka has set an example to the world on defeating terrorism 10-years back as all Sri Lankans, who yearned for a peaceful country, were united for a single cause,” said Kamal Gunaratne. “It is the time for us to be united again to defeat COVID-19 to set an example to the world,” he added . Gunaratne was commander of the Sri Lankan army’...

China signs off ‘urgently requested’ $500 million loan to Sri Lanka as economy struggles

China extended a further $500 million loan to Sri Lanka this week, as Colombo’s economy struggled in the wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak on the island. An official Chinese press release said there were “big concessional terms on both interest and tenure” for the loan, which was signed on Wednesday at Temple Trees. “The facility was urgently requested by the Sri Lankan government and supported by the Chinese side, under current financial situation in Sri Lanka and the background of fighting COVID-19 pandemic with all-out efforts,” said the press release. The loan comes as the...

Former Sri Lankan cricket captain to contest with Rajapaksa's SLPP

The former captain of Sri Lanka’s cricket team Tillakaratne Dilshan has been nominated by Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) for a national list seat in upcoming parliamentary elections. Dilshan joins a growing list of Sri Lankan cricketers who have gone on to embrace a career in Sri Lankan politics, including former cricket captains. He has previously praised Sri Lanka’s president, Maithripala Sirisena for the attempted move to implement the death penalty for drug traffickers and joined the SLPP in 2018 amidst political turmoil which saw Mahinda Rajapaksa attempt to gain the office of prime...

Buddhist extremist monks form coalition for Sri Lanka’s election

Extremist Sinhala Buddhist monks from the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) have formed a new joint coalition to contest in Sri Lanka’s parliamentary elections. The new coalition, called ‘Ape Jana Bala Pakshaya’, will be led by former parliamentarian and founding JHU member Athuraliye Rathana and Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General Secretary Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara. Both candidates and their respective parties have called for right-wing Sinhala nationalist policies. Earlier this year, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion released a report that raised concerns over...

Sri Lanka to postpone general elections due to coronavirus outbreak

The chairman of Sri Lanka’s election commission confirmed that parliamentary elections scheduled for next month will be delayed due to the current COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak on the island. “Coronavirus will decide when we can hold the election again,” said Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya. “We must eradicate this disease, I urge everyone to focus and support efforts to eradicate the virus.” The decision makes a reversal of his comments from just two days ago when the Election Commission said it was told by health authorities that “there is no serious situation in the country...

Sri Lanka tourism could face worst crisis in history due to coronavirus outbreak

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry could be facing the worst crisis in history due to the outbreak of Covid-19, EconomyNext reports . Speaking to EconomyNext, President of the Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka Sanath Ukwatte, said that “this is the worst crisis we have ever seen in the tourism industry.” Tourism arrivals fell in 2019 following the Easter Sunday terror bombings but Ukwatte believes that tourism arrivals in 2020 will fall below the 2019 numbers. “I personally think that people will be comfortable and confident of travelling and going on vacation only after a vaccine is...

Nominations filed in Jaffna for Sri Lanka’s parliamentary elections

Tamils in Jaffna representing a spectrum of political parties filed their nominations papers this morning, as Sri Lanka’s election commissioner confirmed that parliamentary polls scheduled for next month would still be held. Candidates from the Tamil Nation Alliance (TNA), Tamil National Peoples’ Front (TNPF) and Thamizh Makkal Kootanii (TMK) all filed their papers this morning. The Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP) and United National Party (UNP) candidates, who will also be contesting in Jaffna, submitted their paperwork as well.

Sri Lankan airforce takes over quarantine procedures at Colombo airport

Armed Sri Lankan soldiers have been enforcing quarantine procedures for arrivals coming into the island at Colombo’s international airport this week, as the military expands its role in tackling the coronavirus outbreak. Soldiers from the Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear and Explosive Wing of the Sri Lankan air force were seen inspecting disembarking passengers, as well as transporting them to quarantine centres around the island. Sri Lanka’s militarised response comes after the government announced accused war criminal Shavendra Silva will be heading a coronavirus task force, and...

US donates equipment to Sri Lankan airport to tackle coronavirus

The US Embassy in Sri Lanka donated supplies to the Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of Sri Lanka at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo on Tuesday, as part of US global relief efforts to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. “We stand in solidarity with Sri Lanka as both our countries battle this global pandemic,” said Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina Teplitz, as she donated coveralls, gloves, boot covers, and cleaning supplies to the former military officer who heads the CAA. “Whatever the challenges, we’re ready to face them with Sri Lanka,” she added. “The United...

Rajapaksa announces ‘continuous search’ for arrivals as flights suspended

Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced that all inbound flights to the island will be shut down for two weeks and that the security forces were engaged in a “continuous search” for persons that arrived from high risk countries as part of efforts to contain the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Rajapaksa announced the decisions after hosting a meeting of the Corona Prevention Task Force, which is headed up by Shavendra Silva, the head of the Sri Lankan army, who is currently subject to US travel sanctions due to his role in overseeing war crimes. An official press release said...

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